The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has nabbed a Canadian woman believed to have originated a botnet which she used to recreationally terrorise victims.
As the Mounties report, investigators from their Integrated Technological Crime Unit (ITCU) arrested a female on suspicion of operating a botnet after conducting a search at her residence, located in Saint-Alphonse-de-Rodriguez.
The woman has been identified by CBC News as 27-year-old Valérie Gignac.
The suspect – who allegedly used a Remote Administration Tool (RAT) to spy on her victims through their web cameras and harass them – appeared in court today and was charged with four counts related to the unauthorised use of a computer and mischief in relation to computer data.
"The investigation shows that the suspect used various methods to harass her victims, including by eavesdropping on private conversations and by communicating with victims through the speakers of their infected computers," says the RCMP statement.
"She also frightened her victims by taking over control of their computers and by logging on to extreme pornography websites. Her victims included underage children both in Canada and abroad," the Mounties added.
Gignac is alleged to have posted videos on YouTube in which she can be seen taking over control of infected computers and frightening her victims. It is further alleged that she was the owner of an online hacking forum that has 35,000 users worldwide. This Canadian-based forum was seized, and computer equipment was also taken from her residence in an operation conducted with the assistance of the Sûreté du Québec.
Police say they began investigating the crimes a few weeks ago, but also say the charges stem from a four-day period in 2012.
Gignac's lawyer, Michel Leclerc, has defended his client by noting she wasn't trying to scam people to make money, but rather had committed "just a bad prank."
Gignac was released on bail on Wednesday afternoon, on the condition that she does not use a computer or have access to the internet. She is expected to be back in court in June. ®